Four years after arriving here and starting to plant things, we have produce – well, producing – in large enough quantities to eat plenty and store some. I stewed eight kilos of apples a while ago for when we need an emergency crumble in winter (or, I guess, several smaller ones) then picked another bag as big and left it for when I had a moment. The apples, though delicious, had fairly interesting-looking skins and I thought the kids would turn their noses up at them but it seems that after many children passing through the kitchen many times there are now so few apples left that there’s no point in stewing. I’m more than happy for them to be eating their apple a day in its natural state. Cassia does even better with reducing waste – she sometimes has one apple on the go for several days, pulling it out from its hiding place under the bed, behind the couch or in the toy box whenever she feels the need for a few more bites.
It turns out that tomatoes love a hot dry summer which is excellent luck as that’s just what we’ve had. Full marks to the valiant tomato vines; they’ve been going like the clappers for months. I made a big batch of soup for the freezer and have had ongoing plans to roast the cherry tomatoes for freezing, but again, by the time the kids have had a handful in their lunchbox each day and we’ve had salad for tea, they have no chance to accumulate. The cucumbers seem to have had a second wind – if you know where to look in what is now a very busy and tangled space – and there are capsicums for the whole street. They’re full of surprises, the capsicums, they all start off green and if you leave them long enough they end up a random mix of reds, yellows and oranges. I’m sure that’s not what it said on the packet.
The compost heap has sprouted an extremely enthusiastic pumpkin vine, which is great news as all the children love pumpkin soup, but I will say it makes taking out the compost a bit challenging. It’s spread over half the lawn and is working its way under the fence to the neighbour’s. The favourite so far, though, has to be the watermelon. It was another vine intent on taking over the world, and I did love the cute little marble-sized miniature melons. Despite everybody telling me they need a lot of water and me providing very little, and God providing even less, the melons grew and grew and grew and provided many afternoon teas for kids for miles around. The biggest one weighed, I swear, more than Cassia, and even the nine children I happened to be feeding that day couldn’t come near to finishing it. Water, my foot.
And now it’s all about passionfruit and the seeds from Noah’s beloved sunflowers. What’s with sunflowers and their big ideas? Each one has about half a million seeds. Delusions of grandeur. They are impressive I admit, and were taller than me and had bigger faces, but how many offspring does one flower need? I’m not complaining though, because when I get sick of husking them, they make wonderful playthings.